Summer 2016 – Mid Season Report

No Week 6 in Anime this week but I promise to make a mega-post and a Re: Zero article this Saturday.

I just had some work-related commitments that I had to finish. You know, things that pay me money, uguu… Aside from that, I am happy to report that I am liking Summer 2016 so far. Last year was a dud and it made me wish I didn’t watch seasonal shows as their quality is a mixed bag. Without further ado, let’s rank these shows!

1. Orange

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Grade: A-

There is something about orange’s brooding atmosphere that sets it apart from other shoujo titles. I can even call this a deconstruction in a way tropes are avoided most of the time, and the show lets its characters shine over the theme of regret and redeeming oneself. Beneath that is an ugly cat and mouse chase between saving someone and that person sinking through the depths of despair. Of course, there are minute missteps in the show. Ueda is nothing more than an archetype, I am still wondering what the heck Takako, Azusa and Hagita are doing in the show (albeit they also make orange great) and some of you might even find the direction too haphazard for a sparkly shoujo show. Who cares if we get solid drama every episode? Kakeru and Suwa begin to flesh themselves are characters and Naho is an emphatic lead. And oh, do I have to mention the gorgeous background artwork this series has?

2. planetarian

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Grade: B+

If Orange is the pinnacle of character moments this season, planetarian pretty much wins in telling the most cohesive story out of these shows I am watching right now. People might accuse Key for overblown drama but here, it is done right. Perhaps it is too low-key that it held back the feels to a fault. I was supposed to feel teary and all with the tragedy unfolding in front of me but all it solicited was a sad smile. Your liking of Yumemi towards the initial episodes can be mixed – as she was a reminiscent of that robot from Plastic Memories (that was thankfully proven wrong later). Not bad given how composed the story is but… this is a rare Key show that makes me wish it dialed up the drama.

3. Mob Psycho 100 (My Personal Best OP this season)

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Grade: B+

The show is pulling all its visual tricks in the form of psychedelic artwork, which makes it a worthy companion of the visual juggernaut One Punch Man. However, the series had heart, and a very ugly one for that. Teenage insecurities were fronted and alluded at the same time. Mob wants to earn something for his crush to approve him (thus, ignoring his good traits) while his younger brother wants what Mob has (but has pretty much everything what Mob lacks). Reigen grows for me as a delightful goofball and the antagonists have much more character than the caricature-ish ones in One Punch Man. All in all, Mob Psycho 100 has a good chance to also enter in my Top 10 most favorite shows this year.

4. Sweetness and Lightning

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Grade: A- to C+, depending on how long the cookfest is.

I wasn’t wrong to call this the second coming of Usagi Drop, but I was not exactly right to say that I enjoy everything that is feed to me by this show. Sure, the Tsumugi is one heck of an adorable creature, Sensei is moe and Kotori swings between cute and cloying. Yet my attention starts to drift somewhere whenever they proceed with their kitchen antics. These are not boring per se, and the show tries its hardest to insert some variety but let us just say I did not watch Sweetness and Lightning for that.

5. DAYS

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Grade: B+

This is an old school show laden with undertones that aren’t intrusive enough to enjoy an episode. Mind you, the feels are strong with DAYS thanks to its mix of earnest and goofy cast. The series lacks originality but this is a cliche done right. Hence, turn your critical thinking off and enjoy this well-executed show for the fun and feels.

PS: Mizuki needs more exposure. That moe of a captain is my new favorite this season!

6. 91 Days

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Grade: B

I felt bad for putting this here because I think orange and this had the best premieres this season. However, the story seemed to lose its luster starting on episode 4 and hasn’t recovered that much since then. It does not help that I cannot feel invested with characters whose name is not Angelo (or Nero, but he bores me too). The jokes are ruining the somber atmosphere this series has, and I can’t tell the direction where this one is going. Or maybe, there are too many characters in this show!

7. Cheer Danshi

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Grade: B

You know what? Kyoto Animations should have animated this good series after all. You got a sizable chunk of fan pandering and some character development in Cheer Danshi. The cast is also composed of adorable dorks! Not to mention the show is evenly paced and has grounded presentation of an otherwise flamboyant premise. However, I cannot stop from being distracted with the low production values.

8. Shokugeki no Souma Season 2

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Grade: B-

Safe to say that this season is kind of meh as compared to the last one. Focusing on other characters is okay, yet my emotional investment aside from Souma, Megumi or Erina remains to be low. Moreover, I do not get some of its Japanese pop culture reference so color me confused with the joke it tries to evoke. Other than that, Souma is the type of shounen lead I want in an anime series. He’s smart but not overpowered, confident but not arrogant and he’s carefree but can be serious when the need arises to.

9. ReLIFE

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Grade: B-

ReLIFE is pretty much okay, if you are looking for a Slice of Life show masked under a serious premise. It stays on the safe zone, feeding what we like but never astray far from it. At this point, Kariu’s arc showed how low pressured teens can be and I think this is the emotional highlight of this show. That is the only time I saw it peeked towards the dark and gave Kariu strong character development. Well, it sidetracked Arata in the sidelines though.

10. Battery

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Grade: B-

Now, this little underrated show has its faults for not making the waves as it should be. It’s too moody for casual viewers and too slow for sports lovers. It also does not help that Takumi is darn bratty to an extent you’ll dismiss Battery because of him. Me? The homoerotic undertones aside, I am curious as to how far the show will develop him from very guarded to a person who opens himself with others. For the baseball thing? Nah, you won’t see much baseball action here. It’s a low-key drama masked as sports show, and I am okay with that.

11. Re: Zero

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Grade: B+ to D-, depending on how long these characters blabber over an episode.

The runaway hit of Spring 2016 continues its stride this season. I can actually say the second half is actually better thanks to its way of throwing Subaru in the dark. Yet Re:Zero remains to drown itself with excessive dialogue at times. I am fine with Subaru’s less than appealing trait but my patience ran out when we spent an episode where two characters did nothing but talk. Yet when we see Subaru crawling out of desperation or when the action starts, Re: Zero becomes decent or heck, even very good.

12. Rewrite

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Grade: C+

This anime adaptation feels weird, and in the wrong way. I do not know whether these filler-ish episodes contributed anything with the direction Rewrite is taking right now. Yet the show zings way too fast when it tackles the meatier parts. Lucia and Shizuru’s dramatic episodes have the potential to be reminiscent of Key’s golden age in drama but these are way too rushed for me to enjoy. However, the great majority of these episodes were spent on Kotarou’s antics with various girls – as if we don’t need fast but even development for a one-cour series. UGH. Yet why is this still ranked relatively high? I have a simple answer – watch the show for Kotarou and you will enjoy his gags.

13. Momokuri

Grade: C+

The brand of joke Momokuri has is actually funny – until we slowly shifted the focus from our lovable budding yandere to our aw-shucks kawaii male lead. Who would have thought this is a harem-ish show disguised as shoujo? I like the way it leans towards the serious moments at times though.

14. The Morose Mononokean

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Grade: C+

Perfectly competent is the best adjective I can give to this show. Nothing offensive is happening right now but I wish we could get deeper characterizations from Ashiya and Abeno. The story of the week format helps the show from being a total borefest though. I mean, these yokais are humanized well that we can sympathize with them. That alone is a respectable achievement.

15. Kuromukuro

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Grade: C+

Ahh… The moe samurai and his moe co-pilot continues to be a mixed bag. You know, the episodes tackling the main plot are actually good (it went better in the second cour) but the slice of life portions remain boring as heck. What is Yukina’s friends doing in this show anyway?

16. Tales of Zestiria the X

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Grade: C

Something had to be put last and ufotable’s offering got the shortest stick. Mind you, this is not a technically bad show but the problems I am having with The Morose Mononokean is amplified with Zestiria. It also does not help that the plot is predictable so it cannot compensate my lack of excitement over these characters. Worse? What the heck are Berseria episodes doing in this series? Can’t these two be released as separate OVAs? It killed the momentum I had with Tales of Zestiria the X. The ufotable visuals are really good though. While these do not mesh well with the background artwork, these are pretty to look at.

So here’s my Mid-Summer 2016 rankings. What’s your thought with this season so far?

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4 thoughts on “Summer 2016 – Mid Season Report

  1. I really do need to check out why Re:Zero is so hyped. A lot of my friends have been describing it as their favorite of the year, and I’ve finally gotten back on my feet in Australia so I can finally watch things with some regularity. I agree with Zestiria, perhaps even a small one-minute “Long ago, a woman lost herself to rage and righteous anger…” or something so as to make the transition feel more natural. It’s ineffectual time leaping, but that seems to be the trend in 2016. At least it’s visually well designed. If it’s the worst series of the season, then this is probably one of the better seasons.

    I might just read the manga for Sweetness, since it’s on Crunchyroll Manga and these sorts of things always tend to pace better with my outside of the anime medium (for perspective, Aria The Animation is the single least fun anime I’ve seen since Beyond the Boundary).

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    1. …. and there is an equal number of persons loathing Re: Zero as a badly written time travel LN. I can see their point, an arc drags for too long and Subaru is not exactly your typical ‘thinking’ male lead in these kind of series. As far as Zestiria is concerned, yes, this season is reasonably strong (at least for me) so it’s just me putting a show in the last place. YET THOSE FREAKIN’ BERSERIA EPISODES!

      PS: Oh, so it means you are not fond of ARIA? (Haven’t seen the show though and I agree with your dissatisfaction with Kyoukai no Kanata.)

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      1. Aria has been described as a tone piece. (The currently airing Amanchu is in the same vain) It’s one of those rare acclaimed series where I have trouble even seeing the appeal. Anyway, Re:Zero will probably be a great series to review, given it might be the most talked about series of the year.

        I joined the Re:zero sucks club on MAL for giggles. I’ll send you an invite.

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